| Says only time will tell who finalises caretaker govt
ISLAMABAD - Opposition leader Khurshid Shah Monday said that only time would tell who would finalise the names for the caretaker government to conduct the 2018 general elections.
Shah, while speaking to reporters here, said that he and Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi had engaged in serious consultations before Javed Iqbal’s name was approved for the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) chief’s slot.
“We have made this big decision (of appointing the new NAB chief). Only time will tell who will finalise the caretaker government. Let’s wait and see. May God bring the time that we discuss this issue,” he added.
Shah said that his Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) would fight any conspiracy against the democratic order. “We will fight for the parliament and the democracy. Until, we have a parliament in place, we will stand against any conspiracy,” he contended.
The PPP leader said that Javed Iqbal was the best among the candidates for the NAB chairman’s post. “For the sake of the country we will have to take good decisions. We considered all the names given by different parties. This name was picked as Javed Iqbal seemed the best option. No one from any major party has opposed him.”
Shah said that no one would be able to dictate Javed Iqbal as he had a solid background as the former Supreme Court judge and head of the Abbottabad Commission.
He said the PPP did not strike any deal with the government regarding appointment of the new NAB chief. “We should try not to make NAB chairman’s name controversial. Honestly, Javed Iqbal was the only acceptable name for all the stakeholders,” Shah maintained.
To a question, the PPP leader said that ousted Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif should declare that his sons -- Hassan Nawaz and Hussain Nawaz – were not Pakistani citizens.
“This will help them, if they want to avoid trial in the corruption cases,” he claimed.
Meanwhile, on Monday, PPP Senator Farhatullah Babar said that the real issue in the Right to Information Bill passed by the National Assembly was not whether it was a good or not so good law.
“The real issue is whether the mindset of civil-military bureaucracy will accept it, and whether mechanisms provided for in the law will indeed be set up for its implementation,” he explained.
Speaking at a discussion on the RTI organised by the Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI) here, Babar said: “In theory one may give first grade to the RTI Bill but in practice it remains to be seen whether it can be placed even in third grade.”
The RTI as passed by the National Assembly, he said, was good compass for future direction adding, “but the road is far too tedious and long that makes the destination of transparency and accountability a mirage and a distant dream.”
Secrecy and refusal to submit to an across the board accountability was engrained in the psyche of all authority and all wielders of power whether civil, military or judicial, Babar said.
He said that the admission two days ago by Law Minister Hamid Zahid of inability to make an across the board accountability law was a clear signal.
“When some powerful people become too accustomed to privilege and take for granted their disregard for transparency and accountability the outcome is: they not only stoutly defend the legal system that protects them but also create a social and moral code that glorifies their power and privilege,” Babar said.
About the RTI itself, he said that there was room for improvement no doubt but in the first instance attention should be focused on its implementation.
Babar proposed that information contained in notes and minutes of meetings should also be made part of public record.
“Critical information that can expose wrong doing is often hidden in the notes and minutes of official meetings. They tell you who said what, who opposed a scheme and on what grounds, who initiated it and whether some very strong objections were overruled by the authority,” he said.
To illustrate, the CDA decided sometime back to cancel the lease of 1,400 acres of land leased for agricultural research in Islamabad, Babar added.
“On the face it appeared to be a case of violation of terms of lease. However, information contained in the summary revealed that the lease had actually been cancelled to implement a decision already taken unilaterally in the Prime Minister’s house to give land to land developers for building a housing scheme. The dubious scheme was suspended when the Senate made this information public,” he elaborated.